Former school band director finds same skills apply to running franchises

Chris Yoo
Chris Yoo

From a career in music, as an award-winning high school marching band director, to a franchise owner for multiple Jiffy Lube automotive service centers, Chris Yoo knows a thing or two about being in tune with his audience.

Born and raised in Murray, Ky., Yoo majored in music education at Murray State University. He plays “just about everything” in the wind and brass instrument families and wound up teaching music right out of college in 2006. He taught at Murray High School for five years then spent four years as the band director at George Rogers Clark High School in Winchester.

Yoo and his wife live in Lexington with their two small children. In 2013 he was ready for a career change.

“I looked at all my options,” he said, and found himself drawn to franchises. His first was a Sears Hometown Store in Frankfort. “I had success with it and started looking for other ventures.”

In November 2014 he saw Jiffy Lube centers on the market and decided to purchase them. Not one, or two, or even three, but seven at one time. Five centers are in Louisville, one is in Lexington and another in Winchester. Yes, he travels quite a bit, visiting the Lexington and Winchester stores every day and driving to Louisville two or three times a week. Yoo squeezes in an office day during the week to take care of paperwork and plan budgets for the following month.

Yoo has found similarities between teaching music and being a franchise owner.

“The biggest thing is holding people accountable,” he said. Teachers hold students accountable for their homework; business owners hold managers and employees accountable for their work. “I manage a lot of people, and at the same time I am dealing with customers, which I had a lot of experience with in dealing with students and their parents.”

Yoo has definite advice for anyone considering a franchise purchase: “Don’t be an absentee owner. It’s something you’ll have to be involved in. You’ve got to stay on top of everything.”

While the offerings at Jiffy Lube include oil changes, coolant flushes, cabin air replacements and other preventive maintenance, Yoo said, he knows he is really in the business of customer service.

Music was what he studied, but Yoo has always been interested in cars.

“I knew how to do an oil change by myself,” said Yoo. He is happy to have employees doing it now for all of the customers at his seven Jiffy Lube locations.

With last year being his first full year as a franchisee, Yoo’s goal is a 5 percent increase in business each year. So far this year, he said, “we were up about 10 percent in car counts and 8 percent revenue for the year.”

Headquartered in Houston, Texas, Jiffy Lube has more than 2,000 centers in North America, all independently owned and operated. Jiffy Lube created the drive-through service bay model in 1979.

—Kathie Stamps

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